Vale Gavin (Uncle Bill) Green

My Uncle Bill passed away earlier this week. His funeral is today and he is to be buried in the quaint little town of Wanganui, in the north island of New Zealand. My parents have flown across the ditch to say goodbye. I wish I could have too.

My father’s brother was a lovely gentleman. Softly spoken but with a wicked sense of humour. He emigrated to New Zealand many years ago where he married my Aunty June, a tall beautiful Englishwoman, and settled down to raise his family. As a consequence we saw very little of our ‘kiwi’ cousins, but our infrequent get-togethers were indeed memorable.

During one trip to Australia Uncle Bill was discussing funny town names and the indigenous meanings behind them. Whilst Wetwang, Crapstone and Penistone in the UK got honourable mentions, and Middlefart in Denmark had us chortling, it was his earnest assertion that the Maori village of Whykickamoocow (pronounced why kick a moo cow) did exist, that had everyone in stitches. I looked for it last night on Google Maps. Its not real.

Uncle Bill and Aunty June always exuded a feeling of warmth and hospitality. I remember a Contiki tour I did in NZ when I was twenty years young. I had a free night in Wellington and I figured I would invite myself over for a home-cooked meal. I spent a little over an hour flicking through the local phone book for a Mr. B or Mr. W Green. After a couple of phone calls to prospective relatives were met with stony silences and a dial tone, I gave up and went out for a pizza. It was only when I got back to Australia that I found out his real name was Gavin. Dad still hasn’t explained where the name ‘Bill’ came from. My uncle and I  shared a huge laugh about when I told him the story a couple of years later at the family reunion in Mumbil – a tiny town out near Dubbo in New South Wales where my Uncle Doug had a hobby farm. Then he cooked one of the best curries I have ever eaten.

I may not have had a lot of contact with Uncle Bill in my life, purely because of the tyranny of distance, but he was a gentle soul and will be sorely missed.

Happy 103rd Birthday to the Mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs

Souths Logo

It was on this day in 1908 that the South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club was founded at Redfern Town Hall, giving birth to the most successful professional Rugby League Club of all time.

South Sydney – also known as ‘The Pride of the League’ – was the third Rugby League club founded in Australia after Glebe and Newtown who unfortunately no longer exist at the elite level.

The Rabbitohs have won 20 premierships over the past 103 years including the inaugural Grand Final held in 1908 where they beat North Sydney 11 – 7 at Birchgrove Oval.

With strategic player recruitment, a strong and successful pool of junior talent, plus healthy corporate and celebrity backing, the Rabbitohs are heading in the right direction to claim premiership number 21.

Glory, Glory to South Sydney! Share

Pine Gap Synopsis

Deep in the heart of the Australian desert an impenetrable military prison is being invaded by an insidious aggressor. Time is running out for the small defence force who are no match for rotting corpses, giant spiders, voracious sabellids and the other alien beasts that begin appearing around the facility. As the indiscriminate killings continue only the arrival of Colonel Gabriel Drax gives the fractured team any chance of survival. But will this brilliant tactician lead them to safety, or is he too late?

Pine Gap is a science fiction / action novel set in the thirty first century. I chose to use Pine Gap as the main setting because of its remote presence in the Australian outback and the fact that public knowledge about what is actually at Pine Gap is more conjectural than fact. A quick search on the Internet will provide the reader with many theories both plausible and fanciful as to the true workings of this facility. Pine Gap’s mystique makes for good subject matter.

In my novel, Pine Gap has been converted into an impenetrable prison where the hardest criminals in the Universe are sent. Its construction is entirely underground and so well defended that it has also become a databank for the intellectual property of all the peaceful nations within the galaxy. Bank accounts, patents, military secrets etc are stored here alongside monsters, terrorists and captured enemy Generals. In spite of all its security however, someone is managing to get in.

The main character is Colonel Gabriel Drax. He is a highly decorated officer and a skilled military tactician who was born in Australia and has been brought to the Gap in order to provide security. Gabriel suffered an accident as a child, which required in experimental surgery to be performed on his brain. As a result of his many operations Gabriel often has vague nightmares warning him about the future. All the while that he is trying to build a defensive position he is bombarded by an abstruse extrasensory perception. He knows that he is going to be betrayed but he does not know if it will be his friend, his enemy or his lover.

The other main characters are:

Admiral Dargan – He is the incumbent commander of Pine Gap who places Colonel Drax in charge. Gabriel knows that Dargan is developing something sinister in the bowels of the facility and it doesn’t take long to deduce what that is. Dargan has a long history of incompetent leadership and as a result he is despised by many of his subordinates especially Colonel Drax.

Major Katana May from Military Intelligence who is Admiral Dargan’s niece. Katana has a fiery temper, which lands her in hot water on more than one occasion. Gabriel develops a fondness for her regardless of her relationship to Admiral Dargan and in spite of the fact he knows she has been ordered to spy on him.

Captain Sebastian Botha who is Gabriel’s closest friend. Sebastian is a loyal soldier and confidant who would follow Gabriel into the depths of hell if need be. Their friendship was forged over years of fighting side by side during various campaigns throughout the Universe. Sebastian enjoys telling stories of their battles to the other troopers and sharing bourbon with his friend.

Lilakoi Paige who is the Chief Science Officer and Gabriel’s love interest. Lily is an incredibly intelligent scientist whom Gabriel is always trying to keep up with. She was brought to Pine Gap to assist Admiral Dargan achieve his insidious goals but she is in love with Gabriel and cannot seem to focus properly on her efforts. The more she falls for him the more she becomes conflicted about her actions.

Lieutenant Nick Schiffiletti who manages the Communications. Nick is a young, small-framed boy in his early twenties with a natural flair for computers. He is in charge of ensuring that Admiral Dargan’s communiqués are kept private and that the experiment remains a secret. He is also somewhat of a military historian with a deep respect for the Drax family. The arrival of Gabriel makes Nick think twice about his part in the Admiral’s deception.

Declan Sharkey, a mercenary who is leading the invasion. Declan is an ex soldier who was too violent to remain in the armed forces. He is an evil, smooth talking murderer who leads a group of insurgents with similar tendencies.

The Jones Brothers are three humanoids from the planet Tortia who are financing the mercenaries. Tortians are a race of people who have been genetically enhancing their appearances for generations. As a result their DNA has changed to the point that they all look exactly the same. The downside is they have become genetically perfect geniuses that are also criminally insane.

Garou, a shape-shifter and tribal chieftain from Scarag. He and his family are being used as pawns in the Tortian’s plans.

There are many other minor characters that will engage the reader in their own unique way. There is Fricassee Phil, the ancient chef who dispenses wisdom alongside his bacon and eggs. The grim Master Chief, leader of the last remaining squad of Red Cap soldiers in the Universe. Mo, the gruff Tullimbar Sergeant who befriends the Master Chief in spite of their differences and General Garorky Katarg a high ranking officer of the Magadatch army who are at war with Earth and our allies.

Throughout the novel the characters develop and change. Friends become enemies and enemies become allies. There is love, death and romance intermingled with jealousy, greed and infighting as Gabriel attempts to unite the troops and repel the invaders. Families splinter and murderers are exposed as the troops learn to trust one another and their leader in a desperate bid for survival.

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

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The early morning dew twinkled from the orb weaver’s web like a thousand tiny rhinestones in a disco cowboy’s jacket. The remnants of last night’s meal hung lazily by a single sticky strand, the mummified remains no longer resembling a fat and juicy moth. With grey clouds threatening to disgorge their voluminous contents the ants scurried about in a frantic attempt to dissect their breakfast, a long brown earthworm that was too early for the birds.

The gentle precipitation that sprinkled softly onto the grass failed to dampen the Magpies spirits as the monochrome marauders perched low in the tree, daring each other to steal a sausage from the sizzling grill. Brightly coloured Rosellas argued with the Rainbow Lorikeets for a space on the dry branches and the old mother possum discreetly moved her babies to a safer place in the hollow trunk.

Pig flesh popped and spattered while the blunt butter knife scratched it’s wad of low-fat yellow chemicals over freshly toasted bread and the noise of human chatter began to drown out the gentle sounds of nature. Children, in jumpers as garish as any parrots plumage, gathered in giggling groups as the lone adult fruitlessly explained once again the importance of protecting the little leather ball.

The ants hid deep in their hole.

Load, colourful humans continued to invade the solace. One by one their large metallic pets arranged themselves in symmetry whilst simultaneously belching forth a poisonous stench that overwhelmed the aroma from the greasy hotplate. The magpies gargled in derision at the offensive mammals as the cacophony of verbal pleasantries and mobile ring tones silenced the Lorikeet’s debate.

The baby possum coughed.

Pointed, leafless weapons of mass destruction tore at the spider’s home, dispersing the sparkling jewels and dislodging the Bogong’s coffin. Hairlike threads, for their weight as strong as steel, repelled the assault as best they could until a third of the arachnid’s masterpiece became adhered to the toddler’s hand. His mother led him away. Admonishing the little boy in a high pitched squawk, not for the carnage that was wrought upon the orb weaver’s home, but for the dog faeces squished into the grooves of his shoes.

Then, as the little pea splintered and exploded from the tin whistle, nature left Booralee.

For hours on end herds of multicoloured minions battled their way up and down the paddock. Sauce splattered, eggs shattered and the empty bottles of isotonic sports water choked the over crowded bins. Orange slices, lightly seasoned with grass clippings and sand, were consumed in vast quantities. Adults questioned the pea blower’s decisions as the clash of tiny bodies brought forth tears and cheers.

Mechanised noise from the soulless devices increased throughout the day. Water churned and spat from large silver drums and was mixed with the dust from ground brown beans. Translucent sarcophagi regurgitated a cooling mist as they displayed their gruesome contents of ground beef, reconstituted fowl and flavoured bovine excreta. But it was the digitised plastic receptacle that was kept busy the most. Constantly expelling its tongue to eat the paper and tin offered to it in exchange for the goodies stored in the human’s den.

Gradually the clatter began to subside.

Autumn leaves of yellow, red and orange danced in the breeze with the chocolate wrappers and empty chip packets. The round-footed flatulent beasts broke wind once more as they departed and, finally, the electronic commotion ceased.

With the sun dipping well below its zenith, nature began its migration back to Booralee. The ants had found a new prize in the discarded sausage skins and bacon fat. Their queen would feast tonight. Old mother possum had graciously accepted some sweet Valencia from a generous little girl with only a small nip and a slightly bloody finger as payment. The Lorikeets and Rosellas returned to their nests fat and happy from a banquet of nectar and the fruits of the nearby date palms; and the Magpies laughed at the flightless four-wheeled Falcon that was caked in seeded excrement. With the temperature dropping the orb weaver left his sanctuary under the paperbark and began repairing his web.

All was back to normal at Booralee, at least until tomorrow.